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Investment treaty would serve Obama legacy

Updated: 2014-10-17 07:51
By Chen Weihua (China Daily)

Under growing pressure for boots on the ground in fighting the Islamic State extremists, US President Barack Obama is facing a major challenge to his legacy.

One clearly positive thing for which he could be remembered is a bilateral investment treaty with China.

Chinese Vice Minister of Finance Zhu Guangyao said in Washington last week that he hoped President Xi Jinping and President Obama would give clear instructions to negotiating teams on both sides to advance investment treaty talks when the two leaders meet in Beijing on Nov 12.

On Wednesday, 51 US company CEOs wrote a letter to Obama in support of a treaty with high standards. The letter, put together by the US-China Business Council, urged Obama to make the treaty a visible part of his visit to China and his meeting with Xi.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP, the financial software, data and media company, also called for the early approval of an investment treaty when he spoke last week at a gala dinner in Washington hosted by the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce USA. To Bloomberg, it just doesn't make sense for the US to have investment treaties with some 40 countries but not with China, its major trading partner.

Many people still remember how hard the Chinese worked to attract direct investment from foreign countries, including the US, in the 1980s and 1990s by offering tax breaks and other preferential policies. Few would have foreseen that Chinese direct investment into the US would one day exceed US direct investment in China, as it does now.

In fact, many US governors and mayors have traveled regularly to China in recent years to woo Chinese investors to help boost local economies in the US and create jobs.

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